Supervisory Special Agent Alex Donovan was closing out the paperwork on the most recent case she'd worked for the Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico. A violent rapist had been caught in Oregon and would be spending the rest of his life in prison. Every time she and her fellow agents helped law enforcement capture criminals by creating profiles that narrowed down the field of suspects, Alex felt great satisfaction. She knew some women would live long, safe lives because of the work the BAU did. She was so thankful to be here. This was all she wanted to do.
She kept glancing toward the hallway that led to their unit chief's office. This morning Jefferson Cole was meeting with a new member of their BAU team, but Alex wasn't the only one distracted by that. Word had spread that Kaely Quinn, an agent once part of the BAU, had returned. Kaely was almost a legend. Her father had been an especially notorious serial killer, and her unusual ways of profiling had caused a previous unit chief to push her out.
After spending several years in a field office in St. Louis, she'd recently been approved by the FBI Career Board to rejoin the BAU.
Alex was a big fan of Kaely's. Even though she hadn't been allowed to work officially as a behavioral analyst in St. Louis, Kaely had been instrumental in closing quite a few troublesome cases. Alex was excited to meet her and learn more about her methods.
"You're gonna get a crick in your neck if you don't stop staring toward the boss's office," someone said from behind her. Alex jumped, then looked up to see SSA Logan Hart grinning down at her.
"Funny," she said softly. "Are you telling me you're not a little excited about meeting her?"
"Not really. I know she has a great reputation, but I'd rather get to know her before I fall down and worship at her feet."
"Also funny. But I'm not worshiping her."
"I'm just teasing. But I do wonder if getting so much attention has given her a big ego. We don't need that here. We're a team."
"I doubt Jeff would have championed her return if he didn't think she'd be an asset. Just keep an open mind."
"How about you do the same? Or do you intend to kiss her ring when you meet her?"
"You're a real comedian this morning, aren't you?"
Logan laughed. "Sorry. All I really care about is that she does good work—and isn't a diva."
Alex snorted. "A BAU diva? What does that look like?" "I have no idea. I'm sure she'll be fine."
He'd started to walk away when Alex's phone rang. When she answered, she heard the voice of Alice Burrows, Jeff's administrative assistant. "Jeff wants you in the conference room ASAP," she said. "Bring Logan and Monty with you, please." Without another word, she hung up. Alice was a friendly person, not usually so abrupt.
"Hey," Alex said, calling Logan back. She lowered her voice. "Jeff wants us and Monty."
He nodded. "I'll get Monty." Monty Wong was a close friend of theirs, and she respected his ability and tenacity. He talked a lot about his grandmother. They were very close. Even though he joked about her quite a bit, bringing up something funny she'd said or done, it was obvious he adored her. She lived in Burke, Virginia, about twenty minutes from Quantico.
Monty had recently joined Alex and Logan at church. Logan had been inviting him for quite a while, and he was really happy when Monty finally accepted. The three of them always ate out after the service, and Alex enjoyed her time with the two men. They were the closest thing she had to a family, although she was careful not to get too close to them. Working as a team meant keeping your personal life out of the equation. It could get in the way.
She followed Logan as he made his way to Monty's desk, and then the three of them walked down the hallway to the conference room. Jeff sat at the head of the table, and next to him was Kaely Quinn. Alex had seen photos of her, but she'd had no idea how petite the woman really was. FBI agents had to pass several tests of strength and agility, so Kaely had to be strong even though at first glance she didn't look it. Her curly red hair was held back by a hair tie, and her hands were folded on top of the table in front of her.
As Alex sat down, she noticed Jeff's expression. Something was wrong. The last time they'd met like this they'd ended up facing a serial killer who had almost cost Alex her life. She felt her stomach tighten.
Once everyone was seated, Jeff nodded toward Kaely. "This is Kaely Quinn," he said. "She worked here several years ago and was dismissed from our unit for circumstances beyond her control. I'm pleased to welcome her back."